My name is Fr. Richard Howard and I am a priest in the Diocese of Salford. I was ordained in July 2016 and I presently serve as an assistant priest at St. Mary’s parish, Horwich.
I have always enjoyed sport. At school I tried many sports; football, cricket, basketball, tennis and athletics, but I felt drawn to individual rather than team sports.
I became interested in cycling when I got anew bike for Christmas and then later, I started to play golf with my brother. Very soon I got hooked on golf in my early teenage years and then all other sports fell by the wayside.I have continued to play golf for the last 25 years but not always to the same standard and now more for social reasons these days.
I have had no experience of Triathlon, apart from an interest in cycling and some recreational swimming as a boy. But shortly after arriving at my present parish I met a parishioner called Lukas Siska. Lukas is a former professional triathlete who represented Slovakia and
now trains others to compete in triathlons.
We discovered a mutual enthusiasm for sport and for the relationship
between ‘sport and spirituality’. Lukas challenged me to compete in a triathlon myself and he offered to train me. He managed to convince me that this would be physically possible, and I also had the idea of doing it for charity. I therefore decided to do a sponsored triathlon.
Like many people I was appalled by the violent deaths of the twenty-one Coptic Egyptian Christians in 2015 at the hands of Islamic
extremists. Since then I have become aware of the ongoing difficulties for Christians living in Egypt.
I therefore wanted to support the charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) because I had heard of the good work they do in such places. ACN is supporting a variety of projects in Egypt including the rebuilding of churches and convents, assistance for youth workers and supporting priests.
I began my triathlon training in October 2018. My friend Lukas moved to the USA with his family in July 2018, but that didn’t matter because his method is to email me weekly training schedules and I feedback to him on how it’s going. Lukas’ approach is simple: he gets me to swim, cycle and run as much as possible, but in a way which builds my fitness gradually.
In these first months my training has gone well despite a few aches and pains. My weight has dropped by 5-6 kg and my waist is considerably smaller! The biggest challenge I’ve faced is fitting my training around my pastoral ministry. Fortunately, my parish priest is supportive and allows me to get on with it. That said, training as a priest has demanded that I get up at 6:30am most days to go down to the gym or pool before the working day starts. Sometimes I train at night instead, but I do at least something every day except Sunday, which is a day of rest (at least from training).
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and visiting my JustGiving page. For more information about Aid to the Church in Need, please visit the website > www.acnuk.org.
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